“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. In truth I tell you, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” – Mark 10: 14-15
As I write this, I am coming down with a cold. I feel lousy. I want nothing more than to crawl into bed and have someone take care of me. That’s not an option, however. In fact, not only do I not have the choice of collapsing into bed, I need to care for my older son who is also sick. He needs me. I am the grown-up in this equation. I have been the adult and the mom for quite some time now. My childlike innocence left me a while ago. Life is a challenge. There is work to do, a house to take care of, and a family who depends on me. I am thankful for all of those things, but my adult responsibilities and worries are real.
But, then, I am confronted with this Gospel, which tells me that I need to become like a little child. I want to tell God, “But I am not a child! I’ve been there and done that! Those days are done.” I then try to evaluate it from the perspective of being a mother. I look at my children, and wonder, “What age child are we talking about here?” because I am not sure that my children at ages 8 and nearly 7 fit the description. In fact, thinking back to their toddler years and the way that they could protest going to Church with a volume level that could cause hearing loss, I’m not sure that they ever did. Still, there has to be some meaning here for me. What could it be? What is Jesus trying to tell me today? I need some help with this one.
Amy Welborn, writing the Living Faith reflection for Sunday, tells how she had taken her toddler daughter in the car and gone for a ride to the beach. Welborn shares, “We arrived, and she played, delighted as I sat and pondered. All this time, she had never questioned where we were going, never fought it. She had just come along for the ride, accepting and happy. . . She trusted that I loved her and would only want the best for her.” Welborn’s daughter’s trust is like the trust I need to have in God. Do my children trust? Yes, they do. I’m far from perfect, but I have tried to be a good mother. I can’t take away all their problems, but I have tried to have them feel safe and secure in my love. I think that I have succeeded in that. Then, the question becomes, “Do I trust in God’s love? Do I believe that God loves me and only wants the best for me? Can I be like a child trusting in a parent’s love?” The honest answer is “sometimes;” maybe even “most of the time.” Still, I obviously have some work to do in this area.
The homily at mass Sunday focused on dependence on God. Small children need someone to take care of them. No matter how much my six year old tries to tell me otherwise, I know that he needs a mother. Dependence means that I need God. Regardless of how much I would like to think so, I can not make it on my own. This I know. I know that if God stopped thinking about me for even a second, my very existence would cease. It doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t try to go my own way for a while, however. I sometimes think that I know better than God what is good for me. That road usually ends in a real mess, which I then have to lean on God to help me get out of. Sometimes the consequences are irreversible. Yes, I need to depend on God and pray that I do his will, not mine.
Even in the midst of being adults, this Gospel calls us to become like little children. It invites us to trust in God’s love and to depend on Him. This isn’t always easy, but I am a work in progress. I will keep trying!